CLERMONT, Ind. -- The 12-year relationship between Worsham Racing and CSK Auto will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2008 NHRA season, bringing to a close the third-longest running primary sponsorship in professional drag racing, in terms of consistent branding on the same car. The joint announcement, made by Worsham Racing and O'Reilly Auto Parts, comes after the Springfield, Mo.-based retailer, which recently acquired CSK and its Checker, Schuck's, Kragen, and Murray's brands, opted to let the sponsorship agreement expire at the end of the current term. Del Worsham and the Worsham Racing Funny Car team have every intention of securing new sponsorship and competing on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing tour in 2009.
O'Reilly Auto Parts remains a major player within the NHRA landscape, sponsoring six NHRA national events in 2008 while also maintaining the title rights sponsorship of the sport's historic Indianapolis venue, O'Reilly Raceway Park. Throughout its long-term association with NHRA, O'Reilly has always chosen to focus on event and track sponsorships, and decided not to break with that marketing strategy to renew the Worsham Racing program after the CSK acquisition.
"It's been a tough year, waiting through the acquisition and wondering which direction this would all go, but just having the final word on it helps us immensely in the search for new partners," said Del Worsham, the owner/driver of the CSK Impala Funny Car. "We had hoped that O'Reilly might break with their tradition of not sponsoring cars, and everyone we worked with there was great to us, interested in us, and willing to consider the option. But, in the end, they have a marketing method that works for them, and it doesn't include car sponsorships, so we have to respect that and understand it.
"This is really the end of an era, because we've been with Checker, Schuck's, and Kragen for a long time. The Budweiser and Castrol deals are the only ones that have been in place for a longer period, with the same sponsor names on the same car, so I'm very proud of our entire organization, and all the people who have been a part of it, for making this such a valuable asset for CSK over the last 12 years. It's been a real relationship, not just a sponsorship, and we know the success of the program makes a very strong statement on our resume'. We wish the people at O'Reilly all the best, and we plan to do what we've done multiple times in the past, by winning a few more of the races they sponsor."
Doug Ruble, Vice President Marketing and Advertising at O'Reilly, echoed Worsham's best wishes, and explained the company's decision.
"Worsham Racing is a first-class organization with a long history of success," Ruble said. "In addition, Del is a great ambassador for CSK Auto, but O'Reilly's long-standing company policy of not sponsoring individual drivers prevents us from extending the relationship. We wish Del and the team continued success in 2009, and beyond."
Del Worsham and the Worsham Racing organization are working to secure a new marketing partnership for the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season, and aim to compete at every race on the schedule while flying new colors. The team's in-house marketing staff has been preparing for this news throughout much of the year, and has been talking to potential new sponsors about the '09 season, and beyond.
"We held out some hope that O'Reilly might make a shift in their marketing efforts to pick us up, but we also knew this was the most likely end to the process, so we've been pushing hard and introducing ourselves to as many potential partners as possible, since early in the season," Worsham said. "In the best of times, these programs take a while to come together and become official, and the challenge is greater in a difficult economy, but we're thrilled with the response we've been getting, and the progress we've made. We're talking to a number of companies that are household names, and our record both on and off the track has been well received, so that's very promising.
"Our first goal, of course, is to secure the sort of partnership that will allow us to run as hard as we need to, for the 2009 Full Throttle Funny Car championship, but on top of that our secondary goal is to bring a significant new corporate presence to the sport. We're doing all we can to put a deal together, and in the end I feel very confident that we'll be out there. If we can bring along a company that hasn't had a major NHRA presence, that would be even better, for us and for the sport of drag racing."
For the remainder of the 2008 NHRA season, the Worsham team will maintain its current Checker, Schuck's, Kragen design and sponsorship.
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